How to be a writer, in 5 easy steps:
Step 1: Call yourself a writer, then feel conflicted about doing so. After all, you’re not famous or anything. How much have you really written lately, anyway? You may also need to struggle with whether “writer” is really the best word to describe yourself.
Perhaps you need a more general word, like “creator”, or a more specific word, like “poet”.
In any case, you will feel guilty about using it to describe yourself.
Step 2: Write down your ideas, however small, as soon as you think of them. Do so in a variety of different notebooks, journals, and note-taking applications on your various electronics so that you can never find them again when you want them.
When you do happen to go back and review your ideas, always cross out the clearly useless and horrible ones so that you can’t go back and change your mind about them later.
Be sure to confine most of your writings to a dark drawer or folder so that you don’t have to think about them ever again.
Step 3: Read the work of other writers. You will find that the works you read influence your own writing, and soon you will realize how unoriginal and derivative all of your ideas are. How has no one seen through your surely obvious plagiarism?
Step 4: Find a contest or writing group to give you some inspiration and motivation. Begin your writing with confidence, then move through either your excessive pride in your work or your frustration in your writers’ block to escalating anxiety concerning your actual worth as a writer.
Surely you have been an impostor this whole time, so it’s no wonder that you missed the deadline despite that reminder you set for yourself.
Step 5: Above all, reject the advice you receive about writing as soon as it begins to challenge your favorite ways of doing things. You already know most of what you need to know, and your writings are the epitome of perfection.
That is, until you think about letting someone else read them (see Step 4).
Laticia Harris is an active member of White County Creative Writers.